THE VIOLENCE PROJECT

conceived and directed by: Liz Swados
music director: Kris Kukul
assistant director: Nicole Newton
stage / tour manager: Sara Jane Baldwin
props and puppet design: Stefano Brancato
costumes: Whitney Pastorek and Stella Sensel
bass: Chris Downes
drums: Jerry Murphy
guitar: John Einstman
ensemble: Leila Ali, Barthelemy Astin, Travis Baird, Aaron Bogad, Brooke Cenicola, Bill DeMerritt, Mercedes Edwards, Tabitha Ferrer, Robbie Hetzron, Meredith Holzman, Chantel Jeudy, Rachel Kimsey, Stephen Mc Grath, K'Dee Miller, Nicole Newton, Tim Novikoff, Stella Sensel, Liz Taubaneck

Performance Schedule:
May 23rd - 26th, 2002
Thursday - Sunday 8:00pm
Sunday Matinee 2:30pm
The First Floor Theatre
$15.00
$7.50 students


"The Violence Project," a new musical conceived, composed and directed by Elizabeth Swados, performed by a youthful ensemble of 23, examines the epidemic of kids' violence in the U.S. Originally a schools project, it is being offered to a wider audience through this La MaMa production out of respect for the piece's deep message and the deep truthfulness of its young cast, who range in age from twelve to 25.

Every three years, Ms. Swados convenes a workshop with college and high school and junior high school students on a topic having to do with contemporary issues. These workshops have turned into off-Broadway performance pieces that tour schools. Most recently, "The Hating Pot," having to do with racism and anti-Semitism, was made into a documentary for PBS. "The Violence Project" is the most current of these workshops.

"The Violence Project" goes deeply into kids' violence, but it doesn't romanticize it or glorify it. The piece uses music, movement, singing and puppetry to talk about the roots of violence, the ultimate stupidity of violence and the uselessness of it. It is primarily interested in the precarious line between committing a violent act and holding back, asking, "Who are the people who cross the line to violence and who are the people who can control their impulses?" It also provides humor, making fun of violent types of people and dramatic forms that, for all intents and purposes, advertise violence as a product. Through laughter it presents some of the harshest facts. It also demonstrates that young people can use theater as a viable means of communication and entertainment. When it is performed in schools, workshops are provided for selected students that concentrate on the show's themes as well as the art of musical theater, and these students are encouraged to improvise with mentors from the young troupe.

The actors, who have all contributed material to the show, are Leila Ali, Bart Atsin, Travis Baird, Malcolm Barrett, Aaron Bogad, Matt Carwile, Brooke Cenicola, Bill DeMeritt, Mercedes Edwards, Tabitha Ferrer, Toure Harris, Robbie Hertzron, Meredith Holzman, Chantel Jeudy, Rachel Kimsey, Stephen McGrath, K'Dee Miller, Nicole Newton, Tim Novikoff, Vaughn Rush, Shana Starks, Stella Sensei, and Liz Taubeneck. Stage manager is Sara Baldwin; musical director is Kris Kukul.

The project is brought to you by ArtsConnection, with the help of the Surdna Foundation, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., The New York Times Company Foundation, Peter Lengyel, Horizons Theatre School and La MaMa E.T.C. This project is also supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Challenge Program.

Elizabeth Swados has been acclaimed as a leading creator of works for younger actors since her Broadway hit, "Runaways." She began her professional career as a composer at La MaMa, where she worked with Peter Brook and Andrei Serban and won her first Obie at age 21 for setting "Medea" to ethnic music. Her memorable La MaMa productions include "Fragments of a Greek Trilogy" with Serban, "Crow" with Robbie Anton and the opera-oratorio "Jerusalem." In 1996, she directed a pair of her own musicals, "Doonesbury Flashbacks," based on Garry Trudeau's comic strip, and "The Emperor's New Clothes" based loosely on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, at La MaMa. Last season, she brought another young company to La MaMa for a post-election political satire and contributed to the score of Ellen Stewart's "Seven Against Thebes," a dance-opera adaptation of the classic play by Aeschylus, which was performed by the Great Jones Repertory.

Swados has been writing music, theater and books professionally for almost 30 years. She has been nominated for Tony , Drama Desk, Ace and Emmy Awards and has won several Obies, Outer Critics Circle Awards, a PEN Citation, and an Anne Frank National Foundation for Jewish Culture award. Her Broadway credits also include "Doonesbury." Her Off-Broadway credits also include, among others, "Alice in Wonderland" (with Meryl Streep), "Dispatches," "The Haggadah", "Jerusalem," "Rap Music Ronnie" (with Gary Trudeau), and "Missionaries."

Beside La MaMa, her works have been seen at The Public Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center Institute, Mark Taper Forum, and many other Off- and Off-off Broadway houses. She has published three novels, and two nonfiction books and her works have been optioned by Milos Forman and Marion Brando. Currently she is adapting her children's book, "Dreamtective," for Disney. Ms. Swados is currently creating a new musical piece called "The Three Gods" and her newest novel, "Flamboyant," just came out in paperback, published by Picador. She has taught at New York University and has conducted workshops at many colleges across the country and in forums in France, Israel, parts of Africa, Brazil, as well as regional theaters in the U.S. Her CD, "The Bible Women," went in the NASA Space Shuttle as a choice of music for Astronaut Alan Hoffman.

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